Revisiting Your Health Goals with the New Year
A new year often brings about a desire to reassess your health. As data shows, if you’re among the 75% of Americans who don’t meet physical activity recommendations, you might consider focusing your New Year’s resolutions on increasing your activity levels. However, a common obstacle is the lack of motivation or energy to get physically active.
You’re not alone in this struggle. Whether due to mental health issues, low energy levels, or just a lack of motivation, keeping active can be challenging. Luckily, we have collected six effective strategies from personal trainers and physical therapists to help you stay active, even when you feel like doing nothing.
Setting Manageable Fitness Goals
Most fitness experts agree that setting small, achievable goals is crucial. This could mean just getting through five minutes of exercise or doing three push-ups. As Julie Lohre, a certified personal trainer and women’s fitness expert, puts it, “the first step should be so easy that you can’t say no.” Once you start exercising, it’s likely you’ll feel motivated to keep going.
According to Daniel Richter, certified personal trainer and founder of Strength Log, “Our minds want to stop sooner than our bodies, so get moving for a short time and reevaluate afterward.” Even if you stop after achieving your initial goal, remember that any exercise is better than none.
Embracing Gentle Exercise
On days when you lack the motivation to get off the couch, it’s okay to shift your focus to low-impact exercises. Andrew Nasr, an orthopedic and sports physical therapist at Rudis, recommends workouts like yoga, tai chi, swimming, or even a simple walk, especially on low-energy days. Nasr notes that “even just 15 to 20 minutes outside in nature can lift your mood while getting your blood circulating.”
You can also try lighter forms of exercise like dancing, bodyweight exercises, or even doing household chores at a brisk pace. Another option is the recent fitness trend known as “cozy cardio”, which you can do from your living room.
Finding Your Exercise Motivations
Remembering why you want to stay active can be a huge motivator. Maybe you want to live longer, feel stronger, build muscle, or achieve a specific fitness goal. However, health isn’t the only motivator. As a survey by fitness app Strava revealed, social connections and enjoyment from the activity can also drive motivation for working out.
Respecting Your Body’s Limits
Pay attention to how your body feels during exercise. Feeling drained or weak could indicate missing sleep, hydration, or optimal nutrition, or could be a result of burnout from previous physical activity. James Dixon, personal trainer at the Fitness Brain, underscores the importance of active recovery between workouts. If you consistently feel drained after workouts, consult your doctor to rule out any underlying health conditions.
Acknowledging Your Fitness Achievements
Don’t forget to credit yourself each time you exercise. A habit tracker can help you visually record your progress and sustain your momentum. As the habit of being active becomes more ingrained, it will require less effort to get started.
Allowing Yourself Flexibility
There will be days when working out just isn’t feasible. It’s important to be gentle with yourself on such days. Low-energy days can be an opportunity to engage in restorative activities like breathwork or meditation, or intentional rest. By maintaining self-compassion, you can hold yourself accountable without being self-critical.